Hi SongBird, and welcome to Anxiety Zone...
We are very fortunate to live in a time where anti-depressants are available to us. I have been on anti-depressants for some four years now, and they have really helped me. I can understand you being scared after researching them, but one can get scared researching anything on the Net. I will give you an example: Acetaminophen causes three times as many cases of liver failure as all other drugs combined, and is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States, accounting for 39% of cases. Now is that scary? You bet!
Sure, there can be some nasty side effects when starting anti-depressants, but these can be prevented or at least diminished by starting out with a sub-therapeutic dose, and titrating up every 10-14 days. And the side effects usually only last a few weeks.
I was just started on Celexa (Citalopram), some 9-10 weeks ago, and it is really helping me. BuzzBee1 mentioned Lexapro. Lexapro is Celexa's sister drug. Both are excellent choices to treat anxiety and depression. Celexa has helped thirty million people.
Anxiety Zone is a wonderful site! You can learn about your disorder here, discover methods of treatment, and find wonderful people that share their experience, hope, and strength.
I hope this puts your mind at ease a bit.
The very best to you, SongBird!... Chuck